Title: A Minor Detour
Character/s: Arthur, Uther, Morgana
Summary: “If Camelot truly had your heart,” Uther spat bitterly, “we would never have had this problem.”
Word Count: 1,000
Prompt: #268: Argument
Author's Notes: Part 1|10|15|20||All Parts on AO3
Uther hadn’t said a word since Commissioner Morgana Pendragon interrupted his attempt to abduct Arthur. No amount of pointed looks from Arthur, and there had been many, got him any answers from his father about who this woman was and what her relationship was to them. He’d always been told that there were no other Pendragons.
While the galaxy was a big enough place that he’d allow the coincidence of a long-lost cousin, the fact that Uther clearly knew her blew that theory right out the airlock.
As the shock faded away, though, as they trailed behind Commissioner Pentagon and her team, Arthur seethed with rage. Uther’s unraveling lies barely contributed to the simmering anger. Nearly all of that could be traced back to being ripped from Merlin’s arms under threat of the murder of the man he loved. Some was directed inwardly, for taking until that moment to act on their mutual feelings. But the new revelation certainly helped it reach a boiling point.
He held his tongue. For all Uther’s failings as a father—which Arthur was done denying—he’d raised Arthur for command. For strategy. He wouldn’t do himself any favors by confronting Uther while the commissioner was still an unknown. He’d bide his time, track the situation. See if he could turn it to his advantage to get back to Merlin and the rest of his crew.
When they arrived at their destination, after being led through what felt like most of the station, Arthur was surprised to find that dinner hadn’t been the vaguely menacing euphemism he’d taken it for. The room looked a lot like the Albion’s mess hall in both size and design. Unlike the Albion’s, which was constantly full of an array of crew on rotating shifts, the hall’s tables all stood vacant. Most had been pushed to the sides, leaving a central table with three place settings waiting: two on one side of the table and another across from them.
The Wander security team, if that was what they were, remained outside and Arthur was impressed by the display of confidence, no doubt according to the Commissioner’s plan. Even if he and Uther were clearly on the outs, together they outnumbered and outweighed her, and he didn’t see a blaster or a prod or any sort of weapon anywhere on her belt. That didn’t mean she didn’t have them, but it was another show of power on her part.
She stood behind the single setting and gestured to the other side. “Sit, please.”
Despite knowing nothing else about her, Arthur could read the sharpness of her smile and the hardness of her eyes. He was beginning to suspect her plans for him might not be any better than Uther’s. But Arthur was a man short on options and allies at the moment, so he sat.
Uther did not. When he spoke for the first time since forcing an end to Arthur’s goodbye, his voice was no longer rough with anger; it trembled, as Arthur couldn’t recall it ever doing before. “Morgana—”
“Uther. Sit.” The trace of false geniality fell away entirely. She’d carried the imperiousness of command the whole time, but here Arthur saw the woman who could lead the rough-and-tumble denizens of the Wayfarers’ Wander without flinching. It reminded him of his father, though Uther tended to skip tact when he could get his way through force or fear.
Before he found out who would win the battle of wills, a knock broke the standoff and one of the other doors to the hall opened to a sheepish looking man. The Commissioner looked murderous, but he threw up a brief salute and said, “Sorry, sir, but we reckoned you’d want to know. Gwen is asking for you, and she’s brought Gwaine with her. He’s owed a favor, he says, and it’s urgent.”
It didn’t appease her. “Gwaine is on the Wander?”
“Yes, sir. Came with his ship.” The man pointed to Arthur.
Morgana’s speculative attention didn’t sit well with him, but he tried not to give away his discomfort or anything else as she studied him. Her enigmatic smile returned and she said, “Of course. Gentlemen, excuse me for just a moment.”
No sooner was she gone than Uther rounded on him, sneering. “So you really have thrown in your lot with that criminal scum.”
Arthur stood, refusing to be cowed. “More like he’s thrown his lot in with me. And my men and I could do worse for allies.”
“‘Your men’ are traitors and fools, and you’re a fool too if you don’t see that that boy will turn them against you just as he turned you against me.”
“No.” He’d heard enough. His entire life he’d deferred to Uther, excused his temper. He’d said nothing of the cruelty Merlin had faced at his hand; worse, he’d been amused by it. Until Uther had sworn to send Merlin to the Gauntlet, and then to his grave, Arthur hadn’t seen the true malice behind it. “Camelot may see us as traitors, but we’ve harmed no one and threatened no one. The only person responsible for turning me against you is you. And make no mistake, it is you I’m against. Camelot still has my loyalty and my heart, even if I’m no longer welcome there.”
“If Camelot truly had your heart,” Uther spat bitterly, “we would never have had this problem.”
“I can love them both!” Arthur’s yell bounced off the walls and rang back at him, condemnation for having spent so long himself doubting that very thing. He ignored it. “I could’ve had them both, if you’d only let me. But you weren’t satisfied just making me choose between them, even though I did what you wanted. I chose my position, my responsibilities. You had to make me choose between Camelot—you—and letting him die. What did you think I’d do? Tell me, what would you have done, if you’d been forced into the same decision about Mother?”